Lekotek is a therapy choice offered to children, from newborn to age 8, with disabilities and chronic health issues, and was begun by the local Easter Seals club. It's an optional combination of the various therapies a child is already in. For M, the Lekotek therapist looks at all of his goals across all of his therapies - as well as any of his personal needs that aren't addressed in a therapy - and helps us find techniques, technology, and toys designed to help him meet his goals. One of the great parts about Lekotek is that they actually have a toy lending library, too, so developmental toys can be borrowed for a short time (and gently used toys we own can be donated!).
When we first started a little more than a year and a half ago, our sessions (and the toys we borrowed) were designed to try to simply get M moving - reaching, rolling, grabbing, dropping, and so on. Fun - and getting ANY type of purposeful movement - were our first goals. At this point in his life, he was enduring a lot of physical/occupational therapy, which was really hard work for him. He had to put up with a lot of people stretching, moving, and trying to teach him to use his body in ways that were difficult for him (and that he didn't understand). At Lekotek, the emphasis was (and is) on trying to help M have fun with the abilities he did have, while trying to encourage new skills. It was always nice to walk into one of these sessions and know that we would have fun! Our therapy sessions were twice per month at first, then became once per month as M began getting comfortable at Lekotek and making progress. And while this was a lot to juggle - with physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy, weekly caseworker visits until M's adoption was final, frequent doctor/hospital appointments, and E's appointments and swim team commitments - it's been well worth the time. M took his first step, used his first ASL sign (more), and attempted his first words at Lekotek ( "more" and "again").
Currently, M's goals have changed dramatically from where we started - he is now moving very well (and is pretty quick!). His goals now include fine motor skills (using his hands and fingers), speech, balance (he falls a LOT), and self-confidence. M is almost always a very cautious child and we've had to be very firm about NOT doing things we know that he CAN do.
Today, when we all went to the session, the boys had a few minutes to play with the toys in the lobby while our therapist was finishing a session with another family. When she was ready for us, we went back to her playroom. As always, she had a stack of toys that she selected for us to try out. Since M is learning colors, and is very interested in them at the moment, she had a "My First Pegboard" for him to try.
|My First Pegboard|
Next, we played with a plastic car set that had two ramps for the car to go down. Although we have an identical set at home, we decided to borrow this one anyway - the sets actually snap together, and this would give us a chance to see if he would play with more than one set at a time. This is primarily a toy to help M use his hands and his imagination.
Then, we played with a pizza topping game that was a little too difficult for him to play as a taking-turns type of game. But, the goal in the game is to balance the pieces on top of a wobbly "pizza", which was actually kind of hard to do. We decided to try the pizza game, with the goal of working on matching and balancing the game pieces (using his hands).
Next, we played with 'self-correcting' number puzzle pieces. These are really common, and we actually have a set of the ABCs and animal ones. Still, M loves numbers, and was really willing to play with this, so we decided to borrow it. It's another one for using his hands, but it's very different manipulating the cards versus manipulating hard pieces of plastic or wood.
We then got to try what ended up being MY favorite toy - a match and sort toy. It has a mat with twelve shadows, and it has toys that match the shadows. M had to match the toy with the shadow. He did very well - and really liked it. It was funny to see how he and E interacted with this one, and that's what made it my favorite. M would match the toy so that it looked like it was casting the shadow (i.e. standing up), while E would take the piece from him and match the toy to the shadow (laying down). They drove each other a little crazy correcting one another, but it was a cute crazy. This one is more for working on his cognitive skills, speech, and self confidence.
|Match and Sort|
Finally, we did try a 6-pin indoor bowling game. We decided not to borrow this one, as we have a similar set at home (and because E doesn't handle this one well - we actually took his away because he gets too wild playing it).
While the boys were still playing with the toys, our therapist and I checked in the toys we borrowed last time. Since we elected not to borrow the bowling toy, we chose to re-check out a number- fishing game that we liked from last month. Among the items we returned were a color sorting toy, a walk-on piano keyboard, a large play barn with animals, a farmer, and a tractor (we had the barn set for three solid months because M was obsessed with it), and a set of eight shape-sorting wooden boxes with different locks to manipulate.
M then got computer time - which he loves. The computer in the playroom is adapted to have a touch screen and a large one-button mouse, to make it easier for kids to use (especially kids with disabilities); they also have several tablets that are adapted to be even easier to use. M played a couple games on the desktop computer, with his therapist's help, and with us cheering him on. When he began to show less interest in the computer (but before he got tired of it), we went to the sensory/gross motor room.
The equipment changes from time-to-time in the gross motor room. Today, there was a large slide, a ball pit (complete with lots of plastic balls, of course), a small trampoline, a 3.5 foot tall dollhouse, a rice table (complete with a large variety of sand toys), a huge rocking/bouncy horse, a bubble machine with an adapted remote, and a projector/interactive whiteboard for playing games. It's probably needless to say, but fun was had, chaos ensued, and plastic balls went flying everywhere.
While I know that it may sound like we just went and had fun playing and brought home a bunch of toys (and we did!), M accomplishes a lot more when we practice these skills this way, rather than just with therapy exercises - and it has definitely been helpful to have another expert helping us navigate through skills, goals, and therapies along the way!